Thrifting in Philly: 14 places for the area’s best second-hand and vintage

Trendy to dressy, tees to boots, our guide to looking great for not a lot.

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Danya Henninger/Billy Penn
Cassie Owens, Reporter/Curator

The Philadelphia area makes for some wonderful thrift shopping. Some local thrift stores have closed in recent years, like South Philly’s American Thrift or of course the Center City Salvation Army, tightening the pool of must-visit places. Luckily, Philly’s diverse neighborhoods and the towns in our surrounding suburbs still have plenty of options.

If you want a funky party dress, South Street is there for you. Need last-minute warm-weather clothes? Village Thrift in Pennsauken feels bigger than Texas. When you’re looking for higher-end apparel, the Main Line has your back.

Billy Penn has put together a list of must-visit secondhand stores, based on what they’re actually great for. We’ve looked at charity-based emporiums, smaller curated stores and consignment boutiques.

Best trendy vendor

Buffalo Exchange

1713 Chestnut St., Rittenhouse, national chain

The secret has been out on the Center City Buffalo Exchange for quite some time; it’s still a good source for not only vintage, but more recent styles. The mix is cool: shoppers can find fast fashion like Forever 21, old school brands you can’t buy new anymore, and upscale designers like Diane Von Furstenberg, as one tipster noted.

Runner Up: Heres2CoolStuff

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Best tees and best button-ups

Heres2CoolStuff Clothing

1214 South St., boutique with new items too

This store is also a cool place to peruse dresses and more recent trends, but the downstairs T-shirt section really shines. It’s a place to find tees with dad jokes that the older dudes in your family might wear on vacation, and that some Millennial friends of yours might wear ironically at parties. You’ll also find cartoon shirts (Looney Tunes, South Park), plus a mix of handsome designs, from essentials to more adventurous prints— it’s an amazing mix.

Runner up: Raxx Vintage

Best business casual

New Life Thrift

800 N. Easton Rd., Glenside, religious-based charity

There’s a location in Melrose too, but the Glenside location is the queen. New Life is large, church-run and the proceeds go to charity. The prices are excellent. The range of basics, suits and finer dresses are all strong, but their offerings shine when you’re shopping for work or church. The housewares and furniture available also might have you like ?.

Runners Up: Second Mile (214 S 45th St.), Circle Thrift Fishtown (2233 Frankford Ave.)

Best suits

The Lancaster Avenue shopping trail

It’s hard to pick a champ here. There are so many stores on the Main Line where you can find quality dress suits. For both men and women, this is the place to start if you’re preparing for job interviews or just want to look fresh.

Bryn Mawr Hospital Thrift Shop

804 County Line Rd., Bryn Mawr, hospital affiliated nonprofit

Greene Street

848 Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, regional consignment chain

Penny Wise

57 Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, hospital affiliated nonprofit

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Best all-around

Village Thrift

7533 S Crescent Blvd., Pennsauken, regional warehouse-style chain

We’ve got another tie. As mentioned, this South Jersey staple is enormous, and you can find a range of items here. Its home section is low-key legendary too. Folks say the store is getting pricier these days. Still absolutely worth the price.

New Life Thrift

800 N. Easton Rd., Glenside

Runner Up: Philly AIDS Thrift

Inside Curve Conscious.

Inside Curve Conscious.

Cassie Owens/Billy Penn

Best specialized store

Curve Conscious

2719 W Girard Ave., Brewerytown, curated boutique

It can sometimes be tough to find quality plus-size options while thrifting, but not here. One of the newer additions to the area’s thrift scene is Brewerytown’s Curve Conscious. Don’t skip their sections for bras, maxis or large bags.

Best sweaters and best boots

Retrospect Vintage

508 South St., curated boutique operated by Goodwill

Whatever your flavor with sweaters — whether ugly, argyle, printed, striped or fancy, Retrospect is a great place to look. Their furniture section is a BFD too, as is their dress section, where you can find ’80s formal wear. And the boots? So many leather options, from professional winter styles to cowboy.

Outside Circa Gallery. Note the address number, it's easy to miss.

Outside Circa Gallery. Note the address number, it's easy to miss.

Cassie Owens/Billy Penn

Best jewelry

Circa Gallery

2044 Sansom St., Rittenhouse, curated boutique

This Sansom street curio shop may be known for its miniature figurines, ephemera, baubles, but Circa is also a costume jewelry collectors dream. Stop by for some lovely earrings and necklaces.

Runner Up: Pennsauken’s Village Thrift

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Danya Henninger/Billy Penn

Best jackets

Raxx Vintage

832 South St., curated boutique

Raxx has good tees and coats, but their jacket area, which includes heavy sections for denim, bombers and track jackets, are straight bananas. Raxx curates its stock, so their offerings are a little more expensive than their Goodwill counterparts, but do expect amazing deals all the same.

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Best vintage dresses

Philly AIDS Thrift

710 S 5th St., Queen Village, volunteer-run charity

Remember when Miley Cyrus lived in Philly? She was here in August 2012, while her boyfriend at the time was shooting Paranoia, and later Rolling Stone would report that Philly was where she “found her style.” Of course, HughE Dillon, Philly’s notably diligent, sole paparazzo, captured Cyrus and identified that Philly AIDS Thrift was one the places she’d try. It was an institution before, but everyone and their mom now knows about this store now. Pre-Miley shopping is a thing of the past. Even so, the store is still wonderful, and the vintage section remains something special. Since its founding in 2005, the store has donated profits to local HIV charities and health organizations.

Runners Up: Retrospect, Buffalo Exchange, New Life, Circle Thrift Fishtown

How to thrift

Lastly, many thrift stores, even the ones that go the trouble of organizing their offerings by color, still won’t organize them by size. What you’re looking for could easily be between sizes, fabrics and styles that make no sense together. Here are a few basic tips to get you started:

  • If you want a good shirt, look through every shirt
  • Treat dress sizes as a light suggestion
  • Feel where the shoulder and hip measurements of the clothes seem to fall: something nowhere near your size might work